Medical Care Decisions and Advance Directives: What You Should Know



Medical care decisions and advance directives are essential tools for ensuring that an individual's healthcare preferences are respected and followed, even if they become unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves. This article provides an overview of the key aspects of medical care decisions and advance directives based on the document provided by the N.C. DHHS: Division of Medical Assistance.

**What is an Advance Directive?**

An advance directive is a set of directions given about the medical and mental health care one desires if they ever lose the ability to make decisions for themselves. In North Carolina, there are specific conditions under which an advance directive becomes effective:

1. If the individual becomes incurably sick with an irreversible condition that will result in death within a short period.

2. If the individual is unconscious and it's highly unlikely they will regain consciousness.

3. If the individual has advanced dementia or a similar condition resulting in substantial cognitive loss and it's highly unlikely the condition can be reversed.

In a living will, one can direct their physician not to use certain life-prolonging treatments, such as a breathing machine or artificial nutrition or hydration through feeding tubes and IVs. It's crucial to discuss these wishes with family, friends, and physicians to ensure the desired level of care at the end of life.

**Health Care Power of Attorney:**

A health care power of attorney is a legal document where an individual can name a person(s) as their health care agent(s) to make medical and mental health decisions on their behalf if they become unable to decide for themselves.

**Changing or Canceling an Advance Directive:**

1. A living will can be canceled anytime by communicating the intent to do so. It's essential to inform the physician and those close about the decision.

2. A health care power of attorney can be canceled or changed while the individual is still able to communicate their decisions.

3. An advance instruction for mental health treatment can be canceled by informing the physician or mental health provider.


**Storage and Accessibility:**

It's recommended to keep a copy of the advance directive in a safe place accessible to family members. Copies should be given to family, physicians, health care agents, and any other relevant individuals. It's also advisable to register the advance directives with the North Carolina Advance Health Care Directive Registry.

**Advance Directives from Other States:**

A living will or health care power of attorney created outside North Carolina is valid in the state if it appears to have been executed in accordance with the applicable requirements of the place where it was created or of North Carolina.


**Additional Resources:**

For more information and to obtain forms for living wills, health care powers of attorney, and advance instructions for mental health treatment, individuals can visit the North Carolina Secretary of State website or contact their health care provider or attorney. You can have access to several attorneys at a discounted rate when you become a member of Legal Shield. To gain more information on how to have your Last Will & Testament created at no cost you can learn more by visiting our site when you click on the image below. 

This article provides a concise overview of medical care decisions and advance directives based on the document from the N.C. DHHS. It's essential for individuals to be informed and proactive in ensuring their healthcare wishes are known and respected.



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